June 11, 2014

Dogma & Downward Dogs Don’t Mix. ~ Becca Pati


Warning: naughty language ahead!

To put it mildly, I grew up religious.

In fact it consumed most of my life.

But as I started to age and become filled with questions, there were not as many answers coming back that satisfied me. As a kid, I remember struggling constantly with one specific concept that just didn’t make sense: the belief that there was only one road to reach the Divine.

But it wasn’t just that, there was more—a good portion of religious folks didn’t respect differing points of view and would actually segregate themselves, creating a clique…even in the same faith!

Huh? What?!

As a young girl, this mentality didn’t sit well with me. As an adult, after traveling around the world and connecting with the most beautiful people from all races and religions, I realized that this way of looking at life was deeply flawed.

It became so obvious to me that ego, power, and control were all wrapped up into this delusional belief of we are right.

As a yoga teacher and healthcare practitioner, I choose to surround myself with open minded students and deep thinking teachers. I feel more comfortable having people in my inner circle who are out of the box personalities and creative. In my gut, I know this lifestyle is more authentic for me: being curious, loving, accepting and a little devilish—without all the guilt!

However, it seems that no matter where you go or what you do, there are always people that proclaim to have all the answers. Unfortunately, in some cases, I’ve seen a side to yoga that has felt a lot like the religion I fought so hard to shake off.

Over the past 10 years, I have practiced at a variety of yoga studios and with many inspiring teachers. For the most part, I would say, my experiences have been wonderfully memorable.

Sadly, I have also been in the presence of a few esoteric yogis who act as though they have the correct answers to the riddle of yoga and life. I’ve had a few bizarre looks when I chat casually with these people about yoga and am using words like “awesome class” or “fucking insane meditation” and not using their lingo to make my point.

I’m speaking from my heart (and potty mouth) and they’re choosing quotes from a special book or person that I need an interpreter to understand (sound familiar?).

Honestly, I wouldn’t care if I was made to feel welcome, but energy is very revealing and a strange glance can make one feel small and out of place. We need to be so careful of how we choose to treat people—especially as yoga teachers.

The truth is we are all navigating our way through life, just trying to find a path that works the best for us. It seems to be a challenge for some yogis to get that there are many paths to the same source. I love it when people are passionate about what they believe to be true, but within the frame work of honoring others.

What resonates with one person is not necessarily going to work for another. That’s why we are not all eating the same foods, wearing the same clothes, thinking the same thoughts and talking in the same tone. We need to uncover the path that will best guide us to our own personal goals.

One person may choose to start through liberating the body; another walks towards calming their mind; and yet another focuses on freeing their soul. I would like to think that through our individual internal evolution, we would desire to choose the higher frequency of inclusivity instead of its more hurtful counterpart.

As yogis, our vision should be broad, wide and expanding. If we choose to see our world within unmovable walls, I fear we’re no better than the ‘I am right and you are wrong’ mentality of zealous religious groups.

As we strive to elevate ourselves to a higher state of self-knowledge and love, it means that we first must find what connects us to people, not what separates. When we vibrate with acceptance and non-judgment, we truly start to live our yoga.

If you are part of a yoga environment that’s safe and supportive and someone else has a fabulous experience at another studio or with another teacher, then celebrate! It should be exciting to know that another’s journey is making a positive impact in their lives.

And in my humble opinion, that’s all that really matters.


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Apprentice Editor: Karissa Kneeland / Editor: Catherine Monkman

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